Friday, January 6, 2012

Life Sucks

Life sucks, it's hard, never easy and most everyone is out there to mess with you, both intentionally and unintentionally. That was my track career, my education, my teaching career, my marriage and my efforts at dog breeding and showing and everything else in my life. The stupid part of me is that I am driven, I can't quit, won't quit, especially if challenged or told I'll never make it. I have sacrificed a lot for that and all of it has been painful. The question is has it been mostly painful or has there been some joy in it? That's probably why religion is more worried about the afterlife 'cause this life bites.

And there are four kinds of people in this world relating to all this.

There are the one's who just blindly plod along. Some get tragically squished and we never hear of the poor bastards, others dodge every bullet imaginable and seem to live okay lives.

The second kind of people go out of their way to make this life even more gloomy than it already is and seem to take some pleasure in rubbing other people's noses in it to prove some point that we all already know, life sucks.

The third group wears rose coloured glasses while knowing that the world is black and that most things in their lives are negative. These negatives weigh like anchors that give plenty of reasons to ditch everything and all to simplify one's life, if not oversimplify it. Instead, however, of focusing on the dreadful negativity there is a preference to see the little glimmers of light and weigh them greater than all the darkness that surrounds them and so choose to live positively with the little glimmers of goodness rather than jump off a bridge or go screaming into the long night of madness.

The fourth kind know all this and, some would say psychopathically, coldly and purposefully use the others, the blind, the pessimistic and the optimistic, for their own gain. In doing so they needn't care or feel responsible about anyone or thing, so totally focused on themselves are they that, paradoxically, they don't care nor feel responsible about themselves either.
Has my life been lucky? Yes and no. Have I been able to do many things? Yes and no. Can I do many things? Yes and no. Do I want to do many more things? Yes and no. Has my life been better than yours? Yes and no. Have I had my share of disappointments? Yes and no. Can I understand your life? Yes and no. Most of it no. Can you understand my life? Yes and no, with most if it, too, no.

So, what does all this mean? I don't know. Should I keep trying even though things blow up in my face, deservedly or not, from time to time? And so why is life hard, why does it suck generally?
It's about birth and death. Birth occurs in all manner of circumstances, wealthy or poor, mostly poor, and in good times or bad, mostly bad. While we all start at birth, Death can occur at any moment, even during birth. It is unpredictably here today gone tomorrow. Death can be cheated, but often finds a way to even the score. Life is about living, about surviving each day. Sometimes it's easier than at other times and most often survivability totally depends on where one is born. But the wealthy can die young or be plagued with issues that will make their seeming idyllic lives hasten to an end. The poor for other reasons, such as poor nutrition or lack of medicines may die young or outlast many in spite of these disadvantages. Communities of individuals living cooperatively may appear to have life advantages, yet death stalks them randomly. So, too of communities of individuals living competitively, some winners and losers die young, others live long lives. Honest, healthy living, sin free and fit individuals still mysteriously succumb to death at nearly the same rate as their opposites in life. So, regardless of the manner one lives, and while some lifestyles perhaps prolong life to some degree, death still lurks just nearby.

Genetics does not discriminate race, colour, height, weight, politics or economics, the clock of each individual starts and runs for as long as its capable of. I've heard it said that ultimate lifespans are by relative heartbeat, that a mouse dying of old age at two years has had as many heartbeats as an elephant in seventy years. That may be, but not all mice live to two, nor all elephants to seventy. And there are a lot more organs than a heart with likewise genetic planned obsolescence.
Life comes and goes, its unfulfilled if too short and a struggle with infirmities both mental and/or physical if too long.
Life is unpredictable, both from the standpoint of each individual and the general environment in which one lives. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, fires, floods and famine can strike at any time and drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gluttony and other sins of human excess all become added to the statistics of death. War and disease likewise take their toll and all of these regardless of medical advancement and standard of living.

It all seems so pointless! No wonder the western and middle eastern monotheistic tradition of offering hope of an afterlife in heaven, better than this life, is so powerful among people. And death still reaps more as the vehement arguments between the followers of religious paths seek righteous dominance through violence and war. Other traditions either have us reincarnated into other forms of life or focus on good living in this life as eternal salvation for there is no other, or that people are not more than other creatures and things and are part of cosmic existence. Birth is all around us. Death is all around us. Heaven and Hell are here, now, all around us. Simple as that.
I am not keen for the perfectness of a heaven, meeting my ancestors (though seeing and cuddling with the dogs I have had would be cool!), or vestal virgins, endless wine, peace and contentment nor to have one on one chats with God, as interesting as that may prove. Of course, people being people, line jumpers all of them, they argue, and have since time began, over who gets to go and when as if heaven were an exotic holiday resort for exclusive clientele with a flashing 'Vacancy' sign overhead. All because this life sucks.

If, however, heaven is for certain, then there is no point in enduring life at all. Interesting then that suicide is such a human taboo. It is a vengeful taboo "If I must live through the ugliness of this life to get to heaven, well, so do you." No shortcuts allowed! Life becomes the guilt "gift" from God. Some "gift"! Only to have to endure this gift of a life to go to someplace better afterwards? Endure a beaten roadside motel in order to someday move into a five star hotel? I don't want to live that way, owing somebody something all the time.
I have to say, however, through it all, the joys have made the pain and injuries of the trials and tribulations of life worthwhile. I wear the scars with honour, for the effort has been largely positive and fruitful. I have learned from the negative aspects of experience that they come with the territory, cannot be avoided and have made me resilient in surviving them and more open to receiving the joys that also do exist. Most things of my life I wouldn't change, and most of them are likely superficial and would not affect outcomes one way or another. To use the tired old cliche, it is what it is. And it is what chance and I make of it. I am comfortable in my own skin and content with my life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nationalism and Me

Here is another one of those general e-mails making the rounds on the Internet. I suppose it would be similar to those billboards or single page printed sheets posted around Paris on the eave of the revolution in 1789 to inflame and incite harsh views among the people. Means have changed but not methods and goals.

Wilfrid Laurier ideas on Immigrants and being a Canadian in 1907.

'In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes a Canadian and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin..
But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet a Canadian, and nothing but a Canadian...
There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is a Canadian, but something else also, isn't a Canadian at all. We have room for but one flag, the Canadian flag...
And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the Canadian people.'

Wilfrid Laurier 1907

Every Canadian citizen needs to read this!


Wow, isn't this an example of old thinking and how far we have perhaps come since Laurier? But I kind of doubt it. Laurier probably wouldn't have liked me. He was around in 1907 and missed the next hundred years of epic nationalistic slaughter so I won't hold his ideas against him, he was caught up in the moment of his history and I am sure if he had lasted the next century he would recant every last word.

Nothing has killed more people, done more damage to economies and inflicted more harm than nationalism and modern mercantilism. Before nation states wars were small, the common man largely left out of it and rare as wars are expensive and real soldiers few. 

As soon as nations were created (beginning in 1648 and the Treaty of Westphalia) and effective taxation of a population counted by a national census, arms buildups, professional armies and conscription became the order of the day (thank you, Napoleon, Pitt, Disraeli and Bismarck). 

Since the 1750's the costs of modern warfare has escalated exponentially due to all the technological advances in large scale killing from one generation to the next. Ever bigger armies equipped with the latest weapons were required to keep up. Nationalistic war had become so expensive that no war since has been paid off. Not one. Income tax was created to pay off WW1, didn't happen. We were told by General Smedley Butler that WW1was nothing more than a money grab led by national governments controlled by big business. 

Nationalism led to the starvation of some 15 million Ukrainians and the execution by labour camp of another five million by Stalin, a bandit named Mussolini in Italy with whom other nations still traded as he raped Ethiopia for national aggrandisement and, of course, nationalism brought us Adolph, his final solution at Auschwitz, Berkenau, Sobibor and a host of other places of sorrow . 

We got WW2 as the answer to national problems of global depression and the nations of Italy, Germany and Japan. And that war has never been intended to be paid off, it simply couldn't be. And the price paid by the victors made then equally as poor as the losers.

The military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us of in his 1961 final address as President of the US, has taken complete control of the US and so the global economy. The Cold War was nothing less than an economic war of modern mercantilist nation states where the US borrowed from everyone in order to fend off the Soviets who could not borrow from anyone. Uncomprehendingly foreign people in far flung lesser developed lands starved, became poorer and died in useless proxy wars pushed by these nation states in their competition for global supremacy. With the West eventually 'winning' the Cold War against the Communist East, we expected the old military funding to evaporate and that money to come back to the people. Never happened.

Nations have gone out of their way to look for new enemies in order to sustain themselves, after all if there are no enemies national borders have no purpose. With the communist 'enemy' gone, ten years of relative international peace of the New World Order, along with an increased value of the supranational United Nations, threatened the existence of nationality as a whole. Conservative extremists, particularly in the US and Britain, saw this new era as a threat to their place in the world where each nation regardless of status and power had an equal vote. China, too, come lately to the modern international stage was not interested in lessing its nationalistic power either.

Largely through lack of fiscal, military and political support, enormous efforts were undertaken to denigrate and vilify the UN as a failure with some even suggesting it should be abandoned altogether. A new path to heightened ultranationalism sprang up and found credence on 9/11 as another enemy was found and the war on 'terror' came at just the right time. Costly wars of invasion of other nations led to another global depression in 2008. The poor of the world, when the planet has never been wealthier, more technically and medicinally advanced, continue to die of starvation, disease and nationalistic wars.

The poor in the US have never gotten their American Dream. At 4.5 billion dollars, one Nimitz class aircraft carrier in the US navy has cost the children of the US, every last one of them, a free education up to and including their first degree at University. The US has ten of these vessels at present. 

In Canada, Prime Minister Harper wants to spend billions on military equipment to take a more active military role in the world and to show nationalistic strength in our north when we have original, real Canadians starving on their reserves, displaced and disgraced by MacDonald and Laurier et al and 'other' Canadian citizens who refuse to live up to the bargains they signed before Confederation. I'd rather be their 'real' kind of Canadian than Laurier's 'our' kind of Canadian.

The world is ethically and morally bankrupt, let alone economically, and nationalism, plus the people who fervently promote it, has much to atone for. The happily and subliminally indoctrinated lower and middle class have paid in dollars and blood for much of the sadness in this world for near three hundred years all in the name of their nation. What a waste and loss humanity has, and still is, suffering.

I have always preferred to be a citizen of the world, all are my brothers and sisters, and my fear is that nationalism will yet bring us to another cataclysmic conflict, if religion doesn't get us there first. I don't like assimilation, indoctrination, marginalisation as they all lead to "us" versus "them". This kind of thinking we learned, hopefully, from Hitler is counter productive, eventually even self destructive. So, no, I don't want to be called a "Canadian" as suggested by Laurier, my loyalty is to all humanity and not to a self serving corner of it.